British public fed ‘myths’ about immigration

Vivienne Reding

BRITISH ministers are stoking fears about European Union migrants, according to a top Brussels official who wants to see a “United States of Europe”.  

Viviane Reding, the vice-president of the European Commission, has said it is “simply not true” that there is an “invasion of foreigners” stealing jobs and draining welfare and health resources in the UK. During a webchat on European citizenship, Reding said that most of the things that the British public are told about Europe are “myths” and “have nothing to do with reality”. She claimed that political leaders in the UK were adopting populist tactics simply to win votes. “I’m mostly frustrated about the political leaders,” she said. “What is leadership if you just try with political movements and political speeches to gain votes? You are destroying the future of your people, actually.”Reding, who is the longest serving Brussels commissioner, insisted that EU immigrants to Britain contribute far more to the country’s coffers than they take out, claiming Britain’s GDP has risen by three to four per cent because of the input of working Europeans coming to the country. “It’s just a myth to speak about an invasion, this invasion is just not taking place,” she added. 

In the Daily Telegraph, Bruno Waterfield says the idea that a United States of Europe could have any popular appeal illustrates “the distant remoteness of the world that is planet EU”. Reding’s vision, which is shared by many in the European institutions, would transform the EU into a “superstate” relegating national governments and parliaments to a minor political role equivalent to that played by local councils in Britain, he says. If voters are offered a choice of “more Europe”, they will vote against it in droves, he adds. Reding has emerged as Nigel Farage’s best friend, as “the more she speaks out, the more votes Ukip will be able to bank”. •

First appeared in the Telegraph

 

ECJ rules against the UK in landmark short-selling case

Cour de Justice

The ECJ this morning rejected all the UK’s claims against the EU’s short selling regulation. The result was surprising given that the Court’s Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen issued an opinion supporting the UK’s position last September – court rulings often, but not always, follow these opinions. The nub of the UK’s complaint was that the new regulation transferred too much discretionary power to ESMA (the European Securities and Markets Authority) to ban short-selling over the heads of national regulators. And that the legal base for doing so in the EU treaties was unsatisfactory. The case could therefore set an important precedent.

The UK’s complaint as described by the court:

The United Kingdom contends, inter alia, that ESMA has been given a very large measure of discretion of a political nature which is at odds with EU principles relating to the delegation of powers. The United Kingdom also submits that Article 114 TFEU is not the correct legal basis for the adoption of the rules laid down in Article 28 of the regulation.

Here is what Jääskinen had to say about the complaint in September:

“The outcome is not harmonisation but the replacement of national decision-making with EU level decision-making. This goes beyond the limits of Article 114.”
While he didn’t side with the UK on all issues, he did recommend changing the legal base of the regulation to Article 352, which would have given the UK a veto.

However, the ECJ took a very different line arguing that the regulation is in line with the treaties since ESMA already has a role to play in this area and because the powers are limited to times when financial market stability is in question – of course when this is, remains to be defined by ESMA itself. The court also suggests that, contrary to the Advocate General’s view, the new rules do provide for harmonisation.

As we noted before, this ruling has the potential to be very important for the UK and could set the tone/precedent for future rulings. The court’s decision to reject the UK’s claim could have some important implications:
• Firstly, it potentially sets a precedent for the transfer of powers to an EU agency under the single market article (114). This is decided under qualified majority vote (QMV) meaning the UK does not have a veto. Not only that, but the scope of the powers remains vague and widespread, allowing ESMA quite a significant amount of leeway in deciding where to act in what the UK Government would argue are political decisions.
• More generally, there will be a concern that it could allow the use of Article 114 to be stretched – a question which is raised in some of the UK’s other on-going court challenges against EU financial regulation.
• This will raise concerns in the UK over two issues – financial services regulation and the split between euro and non-euro countries. The first is obvious given that the UK may feel its ability to legally protect itself against burdensome regulation is now diminished. The second stems from the potential abuse of the single market article to further the needs of the eurozone – the short-selling ban was largely conceived following the eurozone/financial crisis to combat ‘speculators’.
• One saving grace may be that the ruling is quite specific in terms of financial market oversight, a role which the agency in question (ESMA) already has a part in. However, only time and future legal challenges will tell far-reching the implications of this ruling will be.
What happens now?

Given that the ECJ rejected all aspects of the UK’s claim, it is dismissed entirely. There is little more the UK can do from a legal aspect, unless it decides to challenge other parts of the regulation but that seems unlikely. The UK can continue to work behind the scenes to limit the practical power of ESMA and define strict criteria for when it can act on this issue. Of course, if any decision to limit short-selling by ESMA does happen, it could always challenge that specific move. Nevertheless, this is clearly a political blow to the UK.

First appeared in Open Europe

The Euro – Doomed to Fail in the Beginning

Before deciding whether the UK should join the Euro the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, drew up 5 economic tests which the UK must pass for the UK to join. However the 5 tests were superfluous. They ignored the one defining test that was of far greater significance than all of the rest put together and that one thing that doomed the Euro to failure from the start.

That was the growth of Unit Labour Costs throughout the Eurozone. Without that being the same, high levels of unemployment were bound to come about in some EU countries and that is what we are seeing in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain already.

Let me explain what I mean by Unit Labour Costs. Simply put it is the labour cost of producing one item of something. Let’s say in a very simple economy you employ me to produce glass tumblers. You pay me £10 per hour and I produce 10 tumblers an hour. The unit labour cost is £1 per tumbler. In another country, let’s say they produce salt cellars. There they pay their workers €10 per hour and they produce 10 salt cellars per hour. The unit labour cost of one salt cellar is €1. So in this simple example, the terms of trade are equal and £1 will equal €1.

If my wages were increased to £11 per hour and but my output remained at 10 tumblers per hour. The unit labour cost is now £1.10 each. If our neighbours increased their wages to €11 per hour and increased their output to 11 salt cellars, their unit labour cost remains €1.00 per unit. The terms of trade are now against us. More £s leave our banks than the €s that are coming in because we now sell less of our products.

Under the laws of supply and demand the exchange rate of our currency would fall. In this simple example it would fall by 10%, bringing the terms of trade back into balance and trade carries on as it did before. This is how countries, like us, for decades have been able to increase the wages to our workers faster than their output has increased. The £ fell in value from around $4 to the £1 in the 1950s to about $1.50 now.

Unit labour cost is a factor of wages paid and productivity, but productivity itself among other things is dependent on the amount of capital invested in each worker and climate. Capital because if you have been given a new machine and I am producing solely by hand you will produce a lot more than I would. Climate because it is much easier to work in the fairly temperate northern Europe than it is in the
hot South, where it is often too hot to work in the afternoon.

For a single currency area to work, unit labour costs have to increase at the same rate in each country all of the time, but that is impossible.
Assuming that the European Commission can do nothing to change the climate, though it does seem to be trying very hard to, I’ll concentrate on capital. The amount of capital invested per worker would have to be the same in every country and increase at the same rate so there would have to be an ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE transfer of capital from the industrialised northern countries to the more impoverished southern and eastern ones. It had never occurred to me until now that the European Commission would deal with this in an altogether different way – move large numbers of people from the East to the West.

So what will be the effect of unit labour prices rising faster in some countries than others? Quite simply it will be loss of exports and jobs in the poorer performing ones, which is what we have seen in recent years. Unemployment rises, the government’s tax receipts fall because there are fewer people in work, welfare spending goes up because there are more unemployed and all of a sudden the government has to borrow large sums of money to keep going and in its turn faces bankruptcy.

The solution to the problem for an independent state, as Argentina did a few years ago, is to default on your debts, reduce interest rates and devalue your currency. These three things are done together and the economy goes through a dramatic recovery. Unfortunately these solutions are not available to the countries in the Eurozone.

Instead the European Commission has imposed austerity measures on the southern European states, putting up taxes and reducing government spending which actually makes the situation worse by creating more unemployment. Incredibly, to try to bring unit labour costs down, they are actually reducing the wages paid to workers. Even if by some miracle this reduction in wages brought them back to parity with Northern Europe it would be a fleeting solution only as in the very next day, unit labour costs would change by different amounts in different countries and we’d be back on the same path to disaster again.

If Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain had kept their own currencies they would been able to devalue them over the years allowing them to remain solvent. Instead the EU’s great vanity project, the Euro, has been imposed on them and maintained at extraordinary costs to their people.

 

Planning for Independence by Edward Spalton

Forty one years ago I served on a Ministry of Agriculture committee of millers and grain merchants who had the job of preparing our trade for joining the European Common Agricultural Policy. From the abolition of the Corn Laws in 1846 Britain had enjoyed a policy of free trade with the rest of the world in food for its increasingly urban population. That all changed on the stroke of midnight on January 1 1973 when we were instantly cut off from our Commonwealth suppliers and entered a siege economy system where much higher European prices were fixed politically with a huge increase of officialdom.

Most of the men on the committee were a generation older than I and they were utterly outraged when the new system was explained to them. They wanted nothing to do with it and were ready to walk out. A very suave senior civil servant, not unlike Sir Humphrey Appleby, smoothed the situation expertly.

“Well gentlemen, we were not founder members of the Community” he said “So these arrangements are not what we would have wished. But just give it a few years of British common sense and we’ll soon get it licked into shape”. Tea and biscuits were brought in. “In the meantime” he said “the political decision having been taken, we want to help you get the very best out of it”. It was beautifully done and enormously deceitful. The walk-out was averted.

The key words were “the political decision having been taken”. The European project was always a political project. The economic side was the cover for gradually creating a single European state. On one of the rare occasions when he spoke the truth about it, Sir Edward Heath said “The project was and is political. The means were and are economic”. People were deliberately misled by the deceitful use of the term “The Common Market” into thinking that we were entering a simple trade agreement. In the Sunday Telegraph of July 28 2013, a Mr. John Lidstone wrote

“From 1961 to 1972, as part of a team of key businessmen, I spoke to meetings throughout Britain arguing the case for the United Kingdom to join for trade purposes what was then known as the European Common Market. The case for enjoying the benefits of favourable access to a market place of millions of people was overwhelming. Had Ted Heath, the chief negotiator, told the British people what the long term consequences of joining the EU would be, I and my team would never have supported such a policy”.

And the long term consequences were certainly known to the Foreign Office and to Mr Heath. They can now no longer be concealed. As long as we remain in the EU, the European treaties are our country’s supreme constitution over and above all our laws – a sovereignty and democracy bypass around Queen, Lords and Commons, Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and everything. They provide that all existing and future EU laws will be enforced upon us “without further enactment” by Parliament, as it says in the 1972 European Communities Act.

For forty years the British political class has lied and lied again about the nature of the EU project. The lies no longer convince. I want you to
imagine now that the political decision has been taken to reverse this evil and to restore sovereign democratic government to our country, to look at what happens to our laws when this is done and to consider some of the means which will ensure that our economic interests and those of our European neighbours with whom we have no quarrel can be assured.

But first I need to explain the problem which has led Mr. Cameron to reverse his earlier policy of being “the heir to Blair”, stopping his back benchers from “banging on about Europe” and why he is holding out the prospect of a referendum – a promise on which, in common with the other party leaders, he previously ratted.

Although its cash contribution is second only to Germany, Britain has always been a second class member in the EU. Enthusiastic Europhiles always told us that we weren’t getting the best out of it because we didn’t really believe in Europe strongly enough. This reminds me of the scene in the pantomime, Peter Pan, where Tinkerbelle is dying and the audience is told that a fairy dies whenever somebody says “I don’t believe in fairies”. The audience is persuaded to say in unison “We DO believe in fairies” and Tinkerbelle recovers. So, the Euro-enthusiasts said, would our prosperity in Europe, if only we said “We DO believe in Europe”!
Of course, it was nothing to do with that. It all boiled down to the fact that France and Germany had signed the Elysee Treaty by which they co- ordinated their positions ahead of every negotiation and conference. With the votes of the subsidy-receiving countries (who feed off the British taxpayer) they could always outvote and run rings round us.

The 17 countries of the Eurozone may be on an economic death march under German command but they have agreed to co-ordinate their affairs increasingly into a single, economic government which has a permanent majority of votes in the EU. They can stitch us up any time. Britain is now a permanent, second class member of the EU which can only be “at the heart of Europe” (as Mr. Major said he wanted) as a payer, not a player.

The Eurozone countries have also agreed to abolish what little remaining democracy they have in order to save the Euro currency. Do not forget that, when this was launched, it was a supposedly unbreakable rule that no Euro country would ever be made responsible for the debts of another.

By the European Stability Mechanism, the ESM, the treaty of debt by which they hope to save the Euro, the Euro countries agree irrevocably and unconditionally to pay any required capital demand within seven days. Frau Merkel told the Bundestag “Never will you be able to change this by anything you do in parliament”.

Article 27 of the ESM treaty gives the institution “full legal capacity to institute legal proceedings but “The ESM and its property, funding and assets shall enjoy immunity from every form of judicial process”. It is also immune from “search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation or any other form of seizure …. by executive, judicial or legislative action.” So it is a law which can never be changed. What is more , the officers of the organisation also enjoy immunity from every form of legal process.

It is literally a super-state agency above the law and, whilst we are not in the Eurozone, those same anti-democratic governments are part of our government whilst we remain in the EU. To keep the Greeks and Spaniards and others in austerity with more than one in four people unemployed and 70 per cent or more of young people unemployed, they have abandoned democracy for bureaucratic dictatorship to save the imperial vanity project of the Euro currency. Child mortality in Greece has increased by forty per cent as a result of the collapse of the Greek NHS but the babies too are considered a worthwhile sacrifice to keep the Euro.

So Mr Cameron wants to renegotiate the terms of our EU membership with this anti-democratic clique whilst still remaining an EU member. It seems nobody has told him that powers, once granted to the EU, never come back. To renegotiate a treaty, an Intergovernmental Conference has to be convened. That takes two years. Then the conference has to agree unanimously to any change to an existing treaty.

I expect that the Eurozone countries may well try to throw Mr. Cameron a bone, so that he can come back, as Harold Wilson did from Dublin in 1975, proclaiming “Britain’s New Deal in Europe” and that he had secured a “fundamental renegotiation”. Of course, Wilson had done nothing of the sort.

He had secured permission from his European masters for a modest increase in the amount of butter and lamb which our New Zealand friends and relations were allowed to send us and a tweak in the European agricultural policy which slightly reduced the extortionate price increases it had caused. There was no return of powers – and there never can be under the EU treaty structure. It is an irreversible ratchet. The old tricks are always the good ones. So watch out for the phony prospectus of “Britain’s New Deal in Europe”. It will be the same meat with different gravy all over again.

Let us now assume that Mr Cameron’s purported “renegotiation” has failed to convince either people, Parliament or both and that the government has set out to leave the EU and return to sovereign government. What are the options?

Some say that it would be enough to repeal the European Communities Act of 1972 and, as it were, to make a unilateral declaration of independence, leaving all the economic and legal consequences to fall in place behind this single act of political will.

It has been done before. Henry VIII did it in no uncertain terms in 1534.

Some of his problems have quite a modern flavour – shortage of tax revenue and a royal love triangle! Like all governments, his was short of money. He was building the Royal Navy, which was expensive, and he had a problem with a cartel of large, multi-national corporations which were dodging taxes – the great estates held by the monastic orders of the Church. Taxes then were levied by generation, so there was a big lump to pay when a landowner died and his son succeeded. But the Church was a corporation which never died and so was never taxed. Not only were they not paying their share but other lay landowners could dodge tax by making over portions of their estate
to the Church in trust for their families. There were tax accountants in those days too! Kings of England had wrestled with this problem for centuries. Henry was a greedy, unpleasant man and he made short work of it by dissolving the monasteries and confiscating their property – as much as 30% of the land in the Kingdom.

But he had another problem too “The King’s great matter”. He wanted a new wife to give him an heir to the throne and was desperately keen to get into bed with Anne Boleyn to do just that. But first he needed an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and for that he had to go to the “European Court of Conjugal Rights” in Rome. Whilst earlier Popes had often obliged monarchs in such matters, Pope Clement VII was under the control of Catherine’s relative, the Emperor Charles, and would not agree. So what did Henry do? Like Edward Heath but going in the opposite direction, he got an Act of Parliament . And what did it say?

“The King’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England and other his dominions unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm… in all causes doth appertain and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction”. This version is from the Articles of the Church of England.

I am only concerned with the politics here, not the religious angle. It went on to say “The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England”. If you just deleted “Bishop” and wrote “Treaty” you have the makings of an Act which might serve our purpose today. Many would cheer!

So, after the Act is passed, the celebrations and the bonfires, the firing of salutes from the Tower and the Park, what would happen the following rather hung-over morning? Well, we would be outside the EU according to our domestic law. When the container lorries started to roll across the channel, they would have to be stopped at customs to be inspected and for duty to be charged. But there is a problem – there are no longer any customs posts to do this! They would have the same problems on the other side of the channel too. It would be a horrid mess.

Britain would also have acquired a reputation as a breaker of treaties. International law does not allow countries simply to tear up treaties which have been validly agreed. Whilst we were deceived by Mr Heath, his government and succeeding governments knew exactly what they were doing and, deplorable though they are, there is no question that the treaties are valid. We would be in a dreadful mess, our credit damaged, part of our trade paralysed, our interest rates skyrocketing as investors rushed for the door.

So negotiation is needed. We have been entangled in the EU to our great loss for forty years and the evil will not be undone in an instant. It is in our own interest and that of our European neighbours to achieve this in an orderly way.

Nigel Farage has called for an “amicable divorce” but such a divorce demands a detailed settlement which respects the interests of both parties.
There is another problem too. If we simply repeal the European Communities Act, as some wish, then all the subsequent Acts and rules which were made to comply with it would fall too. I will give just two examples of the chaos that would cause. We would be left entirely without laws to protect food safety. Outside the EU Common Agricultural Policy and with nothing in its place, most British farmers would be in severe financial difficulties and food production would fall. I am not a lawyer, still less an international lawyer, but have some idea of what happens to law when a country becomes independent in a reasonably orderly manner.

From the Federation of Canada in 1867, Britain has been conferring independence on countries all over the world. The independent countries inherit the laws which they received from their former ruler but the input of laws from overseas ceases. The statute book is nationalised and the newly independent country can amend it over time , as best suits its requirements.

For the security of persons and property, public health, the maintenance of law and order and continuation of trade, most things remain the same until decided otherwise. This even happened in Ireland where the transition was far from peaceful and happy. Apart from a new flag, painting the pillar boxes green and putting Irish on the signposts, the laws and institutions which governed everyday life and trade in the Irish Free State, like contract law, County Councils and weights and measures, remained overwhelmingly those which had been received from the Westminster Parliament during the 120 years when Ireland had been part of the United Kingdom and were only gradually amended over time. I must add here that I am a unionist as far as the United Kingdom is concerned so that our CIB members in Northern Ireland have no doubt about it!

The process of leaving the EU is simple enough. Doing it in a way which respects our European neighbours and protects our own interests is a little more complicated and time consuming. The main thing is to have the political will to do it.

There is a procedure for leaving in the Lisbon treaty, called Article 50, of which there are copies available. It is very short for a EU document. When I first looked at it, my hackles went up and I thought “an EU trap”. Many of
my friends for whom I have great respect think the same. They say we should simply ignore it and proceed under the general provisions of the Vienna Convention on treaties.

Now I am not so sure that such a method would be in compliance with the Vienna Convention. Article 50 is what is called a “lex specialis”, part of a treaty to which the British government has lawfully agreed, taking precedence over general rules. Parliament can, of course, do whatever it likes domestically but I don’t think we can simply abrogate it internationally. Under it, we would be out of our 40 year Babylonish captivity in the EU within two years at the most.

It appears simple enough and I think we should pass “Henry VIII- style ” legislation, partly to prevent any new EU requirements being sprung on us during the negotiating period but principally to make absolutely clear to our own Foreign Office and civil servants that there is no going back.

Lord Tebbit famously remarked “It’s called the Foreign Office because it works for foreigners” and it now has a settled habit of forty years continuous appeasement, collaboration and surrender to the EU. It even has a department called EU (Internal) to represent the interests of the EU favourably to the British people. That should go at once!

Such a “Henry VIII” Act could continue existing arrangements on an ex gratia basis for a limited specified period whilst negotiations continue . It would serve notice on the EU authorities of Britain’s settled political will and a need for speed on their part. There would be a common interest of both parties to keep trade flowing. I can then see no disadvantage in proceeding in outward conformity with Article 50 – working, as it were, with the grain of the treaty rather than against it. You could call it “The Belt and Braces Act” or the British Declaration of Independence.

The important thing is the political will and determination. Without that, no negotiation will succeed under any framework. The EU holds itself out to be a community of laws – “a common area of freedom and justice” and it has plenty of laws, 320,000 pages of them, I am told. But it is primarily a community of political will and the laws are instantly disregarded when the authorities perceive the EU itself to be in danger. We saw this with the extraordinary exertions to save the euro currency which were, initially at any rate, quite illegal according to the EU’s own rules and what the participating countries had agreed to.

The fate of Slovakia is an object lesson. Slovakia has about the same population as Scotland and it joined the euro currency, keeping strictly to all the rules. One of those rules was that no Eurozone country would ever be made responsible for the debts of another. Yet when push came to shove, Slovakia was compelled to pay its share into the bail-out fund for far richer countries which had broken the rules flagrantly. The party of the deputy prime minister resisted this and the injustice was resisted for all of three days. The political class of Slovakia, a small, land-locked country, acquiesced in being bullied into line.

That sort of thing would be far more difficult to do with a country the size of the United Kingdom which, for many Eurozone and other EU countries, is their best export market. But, of course, the EU authorities would try it on if there was the least hint of wavering by Britain’s negotiators. If that is firmly excluded, the whole heated argument for or against using Article 50 becomes a false antithesis and no longer a cause of dissent between good men and true.

The decision to join the EU always was a political decision to become part of a progressively developing, single European state and for Britain to become one province among many in that state. Our political leaders always knew that but did their best to keep it from us.

The decision to reverse that subjection will also be a political and constitutional one but taken in the open, in plain view. It will open up great economic opportunities as we look beyond stagnating Europe, in the toils of its self-inflicted currency crisis, to the rapidly developing wider world. As always, there are risks and dangers but none in Europe which cannot be faced and overcome with determined, principled negotiation and various future relationships with our European neighbours are then open to us.

Merkel blasted in German Parliament

Angela Merkel has clearly more to fear than the recently formed ‘Alternative for Germany’ party which polls indicated could be supported by about a quarter of German voters. On 27 June the SPD candidate for the German Chancellorship in the September 2013 Federal election, Peer Steinbrück, launched a heated attack on her in the Bundestag. 

Ridiculing a speech in which she promised to tackle the problem of the extremely high unemployment in the Eurozone countries, Steinbrück described her commitment of 6 billion Euro as a drop in the ocean compared with a real requirement of at least 20 billion over the next two years.

He also derided her domestic financial policies and accused her of having created debts of 100 billion Euro within Germany itself. To laughter and roars of approval he continued: “The youth unemployment and general unemployment about which you are talking, Frau Bundeskanzler, is a direct result of the completely one-sided policies that you have instigated in Europe. […] The point is simply this: You do not know how to deal with money. If you ruled in the desert, sand would be in short supply.”

At one point Steinbrück shouted: “You are living off the gains that we have made”; at another he interjected: “All you have done is to offer us empty bags. When you look into them there is nothing but pure air.” The German press widely described the angry exchanges as a verbal duel won by Steinbrück. “Advantage Steinbrück”, wrote Stern. The video (in German) can be viewed online:

http://www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/schlagabtausch-steinbrueck-dominiert-rededuell-mit- merkel-2030893.html

Translation by Professor Arthur Noble

Europe for Citizens programme

Report on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing for the period 2014-2020 the programme “Europe for Citizens”

(COM(2011)0884 – C7-0000/2011 – 2011/0436(APP))

This report by Hannu TAKKULA (ADLE, FI) was written for and adopted by the Committee on Culture and Education. The opinions were sought from the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Petitions. Only the latter committee declined. The report is concerned with the proposal for a Council regulation establishing for the period 2014-2020 the programme “Europe for Citizens”. This follows the current programme (2007-2013).

The aim of the Commission’s proposal for Europe for Citizens (2014-2020) is to “strengthen remembrance and enhance capacity for civic participation at the Union level”. It is the only programme devoted to the promotion of these goals at the Union level. The report perceives its budget of EUR 229 million to be modest and yet supporting one of the most visible programmes currently under consideration by the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education.

The report laments the fact that the Commission has adjusted its proposal so that Article 352 TFEU is the programme’s sole legal base. Such an approach means that the European Parliament only has the choice of accepting or rejecting the text, but not amending it. Nonetheless, the committee will only adopt the text subject to the following amendments:

amend the legal base to reflect the European Parliament’s views, i.e. dual legal base: Articles 352 and 167 TFEU. This is appropriate for a programme with two objectives regarded as equal in importance but distinctly covered by different Articles of the TFEU, namely Articles 167 and 352.

strengthen the remembrance part of the programme, including common history, cultural heritage, and identity, by highlighting this in the general objectives;

emphasise the importance of small grass-roots and bottom-up initiatives and issues identified by citizens as being of major interest to them; consider the future potential of projects equally, not just their short-term high-impact;

minimise budget allocation to the Commission’s own ‘corporate communication’ activities, so that funds are spent where they matter most;

ensure that the role of sport organisations is highlighted in the proposal;

ensure, as far as possible, a geographical balance in the distribution of funds.

The European Parliament voted to approve this report on 19th November 2013 with 565 for, 84 against and 36 abstentions.

To read the report, click the following link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2012-0424&language=EN

This article first appeared on ThE Unit and has been reproduced with the editor’s permission